Wednesday, 12 January 2011

The multi-talented Monsieur Bourreau....

Part of the fun of life here is the novelty of tackling everyday tasks in a language with which we have only limited fluency and understanding. One such task is the ordering of firewood, or 'bois de chauffage'.

In France wood is ordered by the stere, which is a metric unit of volume equal to one cubic metre. The stere (from Greek stereos, “solid”) was originally defined by law and used in France in 1793, primarily as a measure for firewood.

Somewhere along the way we came upon a type of firewood calculator, and using this we arrived at a figure of 5 steres to see us through the winter. Being eternal optimists and not having the ready cash to do anything else at this point, we decided to order 3 steres initially.

The previous owner of the house had left us the name of the local wood supplier. Monsieur Bourreau lives just across the field from us, so back in October we took a walk to see him. This was to be the start of a very useful acquaintance for us and a very lucrative one for M. Bourreau. 

The story of ordering the wood becomes somewhat cloudy due to the apperitif we were offered when we called with our request. Suffice it to say, we came away with the prospect of 3 steres of hardwood (oak, chestnut, birch etc) under our belt and a warm feeling of Ricard and Suze in our insides. 

A couple of days later M. Bourreau arrived with our heating for the winter on his tractor. 

This was when we saw for the first time what 3 steres actually looks like!

 And learned just how long it takes to stack it into a wood pile (there is an art to this we later discovered).

Another 'first' achieved and our heating secured - for the time-being at least.

More of Monsieur Bourreau later.... For now we are warm and happy customers, if a little tired and aching!

No comments: